Abingdon, VA

I've been in Abingdon for a little over two weeks now, staying with the executive director of Appalachian Sustainable Development, Anthony, and his wife Laurel. It's probably been the most sustainable time of my life. Almost all of the food I've eaten has been either organic, locally produced, or even grown right here on the farm. I've planted strawberries, split logs for firewood, even driven a Prius! For Thanksgiving, the highlight of our meal was a pasture-fed turkey that had been raised and slaughtered by our host, Kirsty.

Since I arrived the week of Thanksgiving, I've only done three days of actual work on my internship. The rest of my time has been spent doing farmwork, other household chores, and having amazing conversations with Anthony about the ins and outs of running a non-profit. Among these was the time I asked him about the origins of ASD. My paraphrased version of what he said, in quotes as always:
"Well it was the early '90s, and everyone was talking about 'jobs versus the environment.' Unemployment in the area was extraordinarily high, and a lot of people saw environmentalists as people who were trying to take their jobs. A group of us got together and started talking about, well, maybe we can create jobs and protect the environment at the same time. And that's all it was, at the beggining, a group of people meeting informally to talk about how to create a local, sustainable economy here in this area."
This is the stuff that dreams are made of. Appalachian Sustainable Development now has an office in Abingdon, a packing house (for organic local foods) in Duffield, and a sustainable wood processing center in Castlewood. It has created jobs, opened farmer's markets, and even begun creating "outdoor classrooms" at elementary schools. What I'm saying is, if they can do it, so can I, and so can you!

- Lets get to work

No comments: